THE SOUND OF SAN FRANCISCO
OPEN-MINDED AND EVER-EVOLVING
For a compact city with fewer than one million residents, San Francisco has an outsized influence on global dance music. From the peak days of disco at clubs like Trocadero Transfer, Dreamland and City Disco, the city’s proud LGBTQ heritage has fostered a unique nightlife culture. Today, with San Francisco booming as a tech hub, its dancefloors remain diverse, inclusive and open to new sounds.
San Franciscans have a long-running love affair with house music, exploding in the ‘90s with the distinctive Bay Area sound of DJ/producers Mark Farina, Jay-J and Miguel Migs. Over the decades, the city’s creative spirit has given rise to renowned labels like Om, Dirtybird and Honey Soundsystem Records.
San Francisco’s musical identity is now more varied than ever, with techno, bass music and house thriving at venues like F8, The Stud, The Midway and Monarch. A new class of electronic talent has also bubbled up from the tight-knit city, including Matrixxman, Avalon Emerson and Solar. In this edition of Monitor, we explore the sights and sounds keeping San Francisco’s legendary vibe alive.
Interview: Justin Martin
SAN FRANCISCO’S TRUEST BELIEVER
Justin Martin’s love of house music began with his move to San Francisco in 1999. The Connecticut native, who learned to DJ as a drum & bass-obsessed teenager, swiftly found his spiritual home on the west coast.
Breaking out as a producer with ‘The Sad Piano’ on Buzzin’ Fly in 2003, Martin went on to form the Dirtybird crew with kindred spirit Claude VonStroke. While DJing non-stop around the world, Martin’s prolific studio output includes collaborations with Ardalan, Eats Everything and his brother Christian as The Martin Brothers. His second album on Dirtybird, Hello Clouds, earned rave reviews in 2016.
International success aside, Martin always comes home to San Francisco, which he considers the “most open-minded and eclectic” city in America. “Dirtybird has always given me complete creative freedom,” he says. “That embodies what we learned from the city of San Francisco.”
LOCAL DJ PICKS
San Francisco's finest select their favorite gems
Established in 2005 by bass-loving house heads Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin, San Francisco’s Dirtybird Records has grown into one of dance music’s foremost labels. Over the years, Dirtybird’s roster of like-minded talent has expanded to include J Phlip, Catz ‘N Dogz, Julio Bashmore, Riva Starr and many more. The label has also spawned the Dirtybird BBQ tour and Dirtybird Campout, while releasing new music from Claude VonStroke, Shiba San, Fisher and more in 2018.